Australian public health system

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The healthcare system in Australia is comprised of both public and private service provision so it can be regarded as sitting somewhere between the National Health Service (UK) and the fully privatised US system. There is no universal free healthcare for expats.

In other words, although you come to live and work in Australia on a temporary basis, you will be deemed to pay for both the public and private service provision. This means that all expenses including GP visits or a stay in a public hospital will have to be paid for.

However, citizens of some countries can benefit from free treatments at public hospitals and medical treatments at medical practices and health centres as they have reciprocal agreements between their government and the Australian government. These countries include: Finland, Italy, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Sweden, Slovenia, Belgium, The Netherlands and United Kingdom. You can find out more here.

If you are from one of these countries, you should be able to enroll in Medicare (Australia's publicly funded universal health care insurance scheme). If you’re not citizen of one of the above countries, you are liable for all your medical expenses until you become Permanent Resident in Australia. Hence, it is advised to purchase a private insurance cover.

If you’re looking to move to Australia on a working visa, you will be asked to apply for a minimum level of private health insurance by the Department of Home Affairs. Even if your country benefits from a reciprocal health agreement, you are still required to purchase a health insurance for your visa to be granted, as you are only able to enrol with Medicare once onshore. In addition, keep in mind these reciprocal agreements are limited to immediate necessary care in the Australian public health system.

For details on the required minimum level of insurance and related visa enquiries, contact our immigration team today. 


Keep on reading to find out what you need to organise before making the move to Australia.